Student offers advice on enjoying life and learning

Mitch Leclair

Mitch Leclair

One of my professors gave a handout to my Linguistics 203 class a few weeks ago. The article, “An A is not an A is not an A: A History of Grading”, focused on the tradition of dispensing grades for educational assessment, and it was quite an interesting read.

However, the article’s author, Mark Durm, did not pen the most fascinating line on the piece of paper Dr. Taylor gave to us that day.

Instead, a quote by Plato resting on the final page seized my attention, and incidentally, it almost single-handedly represents the way I view the world: “All learning has an emotional base.”

I believe in order to truly “learn”, a person must have some type of personal want for the information presented to him or her (whether or not that want is based on moral, ethical or logical reasoning is beside the point).

At its core, learning needs emotion, and the most important things to be learned must have the strongest emotions at their foundations. But what is the most important thing to be learned?

I think anyone living in the Brookings area who has ventured to Oakwood Lake in the winter and rested a patient ear on the frozen surface knows.

My cousin Craig helped me discover it when he showed me how to destroy the Technodrome at the end of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time” on SNES.

Gazing into the Grand Canyon a few years ago led me a little closer to my self-realizational thesis.

Seeing My Morning Jacket at Red Rocks this past summer played a part, and my grandma’s banana bread certainly has a lot to do with it.

Doing some deep thinking while driving home from Wahpeton, N.D., the night my dad severed his left-hand fingers definitely ties into my theory.

Holding my brother’s daughter in my arms for the first time pushed the answer into my head, yet I still don’t know how I can begin to describe it to another person.

I guess it’s what the words “epiphany,” “love,” and “faith” stand for. It’s simply something more.

As I write this column on the eve of my 21st birthday – apparently a big deal in our society – I realize that I have learned more from examining my own feelings and emotions than I have in any classroom here in Brookings or back in my quaint hometown of Rosholt, S.D.

Maybe this doesn’t give me the right to dole out advice to my fellow Jacks. If you agree, please quit reading now.

Our generation is living in and creating an incredibly confusing time – the American empire is falling, our environment is melting, and Joaquin Phoenix is rapping – but in order to survive, we must not get too caught up in trivial facets of our daily routines.

The night that follows the day you read this, go outside and breathe. Take it in.

It doesn’t taste like tests or smell like homework. It doesn’t schedule you for a morning shift or use up the last bit of toilet paper without replacing the roll.

It is what it is, and it’s life. Enjoy it while it lasts. You might learn a thing or two.